Quitting work, saving babies and solving crime

How data is shaping our world (Data is cool! article #2)

“Tell me something cool about data!” Said no one, ever. Or perhaps not outside a data analyst meeting. Which is a shame really, as data is having a greater and more profound effect on each of our lives with each passing year. In our second ‘data is cool!’ series, we look at four more ways data is rocking our world.

1. Telling your boss you’re quitting work, before you do.

January blues kicking in hard? Thinking of boxing up your office plant and heading for the door? Pretty soon, data could spill the beans to your boss before you utter a word. Tech company Workday says their software Workday Insight Applications analyses multiple data sets to predict employee behaviour and notify management. It works by looking at activities like hiring, promotions, raises and performance and cross-references this with regional and industry trends. In one case, they evaluated over a million data points for 100,000 employees over 25 years before sending its findings to management. The software also uses machine learning to get smarter over time. By allowing user feedback to flag when the program is right and wrong, over time it learns employee behavioural patterns unique to each company.

The field of HR analytics, whilst still in its early stages, is growing rapidly, with HR directors across the globe arming themselves with data to generate valuable insights into the workforce. In more and more cases, HR leaders are using data to improve and validate their strategy and boost workforce performance.

2. Solving a crime before it’s committed

Minority report, anyone? Yes, I’m talking about the 2002 sci-fi thriller with Tom Cruise (if you’ve not seen it yet — where have you been?). And no, we won’t need three psychics to predict crime in the future — just data.

In the US, big data sets are helping law enforcement departments predict when and where crimes will occur and put in place measures to prevent it. In Chicago, their ‘pre-crime’ initiative applies machine learning and predictive analytics to police data sets; including crime incidents, arrests, and weather data. When historical data is combined with real-time ‘Internet of Things’ data, like data provided from sensor cameras that detect gunshots, it becomes easier to pinpoint problem locations and understand the conditions in which crime can flourish.

As well as prevention, data is also helping with crime investigations. IBM has created a decision support system called Coplink that consolidates disparate data sets. Using arrest records, mugshots, location data and known gang affiliations, Coplink creates a single dashboard that police across different locations can view and share information. This reduces the risk of information slipping through the cracks in a complex investigation.

3. Arming Doctors

Predicting disease patterns. Finding new cures. Decoding entire DNA strings in minutes. You better believe that data analytics is a true life-saver.From 2019, the amount of data available from smartwatches and wearable fitness devices means that clinical trials of the future won’t be limited to small sample sizes, but potentially everyone. Data techniques are already being used to monitor babies in specialist premature and sick baby units. By recording and analysing heartbeats and breathing patterns of every baby, the units are able to develop algorithms that can predict infections 24 hours before any physical symptoms appear.

Data analytics is also helping us monitor and predict epidemics and disease outbreaks. By integrating data from medical records and social media analytics, governments are able to monitor flu outbreaks in real-time. So just think, the next time you post about feeling rubbish on Facebook, you could be contributing to science and disease prevention. Creepy, but also revolutionary.

4. Monitoring and maintaining the world

When it comes to measuring, managing and controlling things, data has a massive role in keeping us safe.

Think technology related to health care, temperature, gas, identification, security etc. The data from these applications can trigger predefined actions like calling a doctor, shutting off gas and power supplies, or prompting a threat alert.

And consider big machines such as aircrafts, ships, oil & gas rigs, excavators, heavy cranes, trains, and manufacturing lines. All these machines require regular maintenance and part replacements to avoid costly, unplanned downtime. In some cases, like with aircrafts and railways, regular and essential maintenance can also be the difference between life and death. To be able to continuously measure and store vital data, and let software analyse it and trigger critical actions, is game-changing. As data analytics become increasingly advanced, these industries will become more productive, more efficient and safer.

Making waves with data

Whilst not saving lives (yet!), our business Data³ is using data for good. We’re working in fields like Marketing, Sales and HR and exploring exciting opportunities with AI, machine learning and predictive analytics. If you’d like to learn more about what we do, connect with us and drop us a line.